Assembling Your Best Healthcare Team
One of the first steps in managing your skin cancer is assembling the best healthcare team for you. Having the support of friends, family, and significant others can be beneficial in your journey. However, having a professional team of caretakers that understands and listens to you can make a world of difference as you approach treatment options.
Here are some examples of professionals to seek out for your healthcare team.
Your healthcare team: assembled!
Primary Care Physician (PCP)
Your primary care physician is often the first stop in the process for someone who thinks they may have skin cancer. Having a knowledgeable primary care physician who knows you well can make all the difference. Your PCP can help identify a dermatologist that they trust so that you can get the care you need.
A dermatologist is a key player on your team, as they are often the most knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with this condition. Finding a dermatologist who you feel comfortable with personally, and who understands your lifestyle, is the most beneficial. Skin cancer can take a lot of vigilance, and oftentimes, you'll need multiple appointments, biopsies, treatments, and potentially surgery. Having a dermatologist who empathizes with you, and understands the basics of your daily life and routine can help you find treatment options that work best for you, and help you create a long-term plan.
Psychiatrist or Therapist
It may seem new to you to include these kinds of specialists on your healthcare team, however, they may be necessary at times to help you remain at your mental best. Getting diagnosed with skin cancer can take a toll on your mental health and lead to anxiety and worry. Many people report that they worry about a recurrence many times a week. They also report feeling overwhelmed by all the biopsies that they need. These feelings can lead to mental health conditions, such as depression or generalized anxiety disorder. Being able to talk to a mental health expert about your concerns, frustrations, and worries can make a difference in keeping you strong. There's no shame in talking to someone about your feelings. In fact, it shows strength.
Make sure your team works for you!
When you are putting together your healthcare team, remember that your doctor works for you! It is important to find someone you feel comfortable with and that listens to your questions and concerns and treats you with respect. You can fire your doctor or dermatologist and find another one!
Helpful tips for seeing a new doctor
- Find out up front if they have appointment times that work for your schedule. Ask their front desk staff about how long it usually takes to get an appointment and what are their policies around rescheduling.
- If you had an emergent situation, how soon could they see you? Do they ever have walk-in hours? Will they call in prescription refills for you or do they use an electronic prescription service?
- Ask how they coordinate your care with other doctors you may be seeing. There may be other questions that are important to you, write them down so you have them for your first visit.
Let us know who is on your healthcare team and how they impact your treatment options and overall experience with skin cancer.
How often do you speak to your family members about skin cancer?